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tv   Reporting from the White House  CSPAN  November 27, 2014 6:49pm-7:50pm EST

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mike wasory is that walking through the old executive office, and he saw a yourter and said, what are doing here? and the reporter said, well, i was going to interview somebody. is your well, where escort? he said, i don't have an escort. i have my pass. later, thatys practice ended. they shut down the old executivive office building. a time when they were putting the theater seats in, because it used to be all armed choirs.d arm chairs. room.the briefing >> brown leather couches. then they put the theater seats in. was september of 1981 when we the temporaryo press room. and i remember, you know, we all that they were never going to let us get back and we'dmain building apg never be able to see people coming in and out, which never happened. we would just wander back and forth.
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and head back over to the eob up to the fourth floor. the day sadat was killed. it was september 1981. i was there because jude had her baby. i was filling in for jude's maternity leave. remember, john, just always thinking of the visual and wanting to run around and get a picture, because we didn't rely on pools so extensively, it was get aetitive thing to picture no one else had. andrea,d up and said, get a crew, quick. get a shot of them lowering the house.er the white i just grabbed a crew and we ran down four flights and ran across got the shot of the flag being lowered in memory of sadat. couldd the sense that you cover the beat by running and
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getting a shot of people driving exec.est i know that is not going to passe, but a white house was your credential. once you were on the grounds, you could go to many more places. >> i have to tell one story from that era, which is the first the white house briefing room, it was the end of the carter administration. it was like couches people had places.way from other it wasn't nice. i was supposed to staff this briefing. sat in one of the chairs. a man came up to me and said, that's of my chair, and how i met mark mueller. [applause] in mark's records, it didn't happen. [laughter] i just want to make one final before we conclude this panel, which i wish i had made a two-hour panel, because i've enjoyed your storytelling and your really great advice. engaged in use is with these conversations about
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these changes we want to make. they understand that, in the wake of last december's public conversation, we came in with a few very small asks from separate parts of the media. understand that we were not on the same page with what we asked for. you got a little flavor of it earlier. each of our media formats has a conflict with another media format about how we want things practiced, right? we have to work that out and the whiteve to go to house as a group and stand behind our document as a group. sometimes mean advocating for things that either don't make a difference in your dailylly practice of journalism but they do matter to the whole group, in ironing out, for example, the difference between the the tvurnalists and cameras, it is just the tip of the iceberg. i really want everyone -- if you're willing to come here on a saturday, i know somee willing to put in more time. please join one of the small groups that the board members
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are going to be convening over six, eight weeks and sit down with people who are not in your media group but differenttives of media, and go over these ideas document andhis let's put together something that we as a group can really stand behind. that, let's thank the contributions of the panel. [applause] thank you. the white house correspondents association with jonathan karl of abc news and peter baker at the new york times. they talk about stories they've covered, the access they've had to the president and efforts to change some of the current restrictions on the press. >> hey, terry. the second panel. when he sits down, everyone sits down. there we go. everybody.u, we're going to start the second
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panel. my favoriteoup of white house correspondents, because that's what you get to panel. you moderate a we have margaret talev, who covers the white house for has coveredd politics, covered the obama california,rked in florida, and also did a stint in congress. and jon karl with the abc news, the chief white house correspondent since 2012. he has covered congress, state department and politics. and peter baker, the new york times, who has covered three houses. the obama white house, bush white house, and clinton white house. moscow bureau chief and recently wrote a book about bush and cheney, which everyone should read. is atephen collinson, who white house correspondent
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emeritus. cnn.cently left us for but he covered the white house for afp for a number of years number of stints overseas, asia and europe. delighted to have all of you. you're definitely among my favorite white house correspondence. and selfishly, i've decided to start the panel off by one of i am most that interested in as a white house correspondent. of thelarly given all access, limitations that our previous panel talked about. to know how these guys and like wherees do you get that information from and how does it all come together. so i've asked them to each talk the one bigf the -- standout story they've done on the beat and just give us a how they cameinto about it. and so i'll start with margaret, if that's okay. no pressure. >> actually, the story that i wanted to talk about is probably
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not like the biggest story in the sense of shedding major light on a foreign policy that.l or something like but it's an access story, which is why i thought of it. one of my favorite stories i did was in the spring of 2012, a story about how to white house had stopped releasing the lists wine that they were pouring at state dinners, gotten the wines had expensive and had become scandalous in the middle of like a deficit deal, but they weren't like admitting that's what they were doing. were denying that's what they were doing while doing it. honestly, the world would have without anyone knowing what they were going to pour, but i was so mad that they made it tell me, that i my mission and spent like three weeks. god.ar to >> did you just badger them into it? >> all of the above. all of the above. so i went to the press office and asked them. toy were referring me mrs. obama's office.
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you know how that works. days.low you off for four they refer you to the press office. thus it went. so i started like trying to clips, ul kin calling the placeses for all the that had been part of the state trades, looking for wine publications who might have written about somebody, calling in california. and like because i was at a wire atvice, because i was bloomberg, i had to write a ton of stories at the same time. that's fine. just -- i was so mad at them that i just went nuts on it. like aended up being great story. it was one of my favorite stories. they continue the practice of wines, up until the last state dinner, where very quietly, they began listing the wines again. and i think -- and i think -- [applause] toi remember right, i went at a certain point, really because i just wanted an
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him, but also to to talk to him about wine, and he was a fantastic resource. was pretty knew to blookburg at the time -- bloomberg at the time. they had hired a new editor. one of my editors said, well, should call him. so i did. i was like, so i'm trying to do this story. cover-up. they won't release the names of the names. he said, let's get dotty on the phone. ended up talking with his wife, who was still very community.n the wine he became like a mentor to me. so it ended up being like a around.all the way now i have all these new friends who are like wine makers in to go see. people >> how about you? >> i do remember when they poured the cabernet, which was about $400 at auction, which was probably the time they stopped it. that's phenomenal. i don't know. beat that'skind of very rare to blow up in one big
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story, but there are incremental story thats on big you really push for. i mean, immediately one i think of is when the boston bombing and president obama came out and had that, you know, come to talk to us in the briefing room, like 9:00 or they got tsarnaev off. we weren't getting any information at all. as a television correspondent, i to stand up. everybody always wondering why those guys are always standing up. two minutes before he comes out, i have to give a little spiel president.to the and i've got nothing to say, because i have no idea what he's going to say. but -- so the first thing you have to do in a situation like around the white house, because the white house down.office is shut by and large, you realize you're going to get nothing there, so you have to go around. got just -- in that case,
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it was just a little bit of a gave my viewers a little of added information, initiated the had high-value interrogation team. this was this thing that was set kind of post enhanced interrogation, if they were terroriste in a situation, a combination of fbi, d.o.d., and the intelligencen do thety, to go up and interrogation, to figure out if anybody else was part of this plot. that was just an added additional piece of information. thatere was no way in hell i would have go gotten it out of the white house. this year big stories has been isis. initially we had isis taking over mosul. there was that big move, is the president going to order military action at that point? like he was getting damn close to doing so. ended up not happening. then we -- we get further on towards the summer. he'sbviously we have --
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initiated air strikes. he's announced a prime-time address, though that's not always an indication that he's anything.o but again, you've got no information coming out of the house on what's going on. but i was table able to get soe information, in addition to air strikes. he would be announcing these goups of advisors that would over, which would be essentially, they would have boots, be working on the ground, they would not be boots on the ground. but the way i've learned on this beat, you've got to go around pentagon, covered the having covered congress, having covered the state department, having covered the intelligence each one of those geteplaces is a lot easier to information in the white house, so it helps on this beat to go places, when you want to get something on the white house. stories.re great i'm going to flip your question a little bit.
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and talk about a story i remember screwing up. how about that? and i wish i had to do it over overagain. i remember in 2005, going down cover texas, as so many of us to, we decided to go off arizona to do my birthday cake tarmac. he flies over new orleans to get a look at the devastation. those of us on the plane, it was incredibly moving. worth ofhalf hour seeing the devastation on the ground. i completely missed the story to
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which i had been a part of. fight for access. and we have to get kleess to clm let's not also get in the same bubble that he's in.
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>> i agree with you. inside of reporting, sometimes you have to be -- to outsider, to do that story about how the rest of the world sees what the president is doing. occasion i remember was the first trip to china, which was 2009. thing indent did a shanghai. the chinese wouldn't let half the people come in. he didn't go and see any dissidents, for example, so everybody was talking about, well, when reagan went to moscow, he went to see -- he had which was,conference you know, it wasn't really a press conference at all. standingm and who is there, kind of looking around, thisg who went into massive mutual corporation, all stuff.nd of
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the chinese often talk about it in public. the president was like staring kind of catching people's eye in the front show. story because i figured that everybody was flying around. i have to come up with something different. with mainly did a little ts, i reporting on what the chinese thought about the president, if biggest k about it, the name in china is that there kind of some charismatic leader, probably from the agriculture from that he would build a grass roots
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movement tthat electrified students, aand went to take over the political establishment. that is exactly what the president did in the other states. one of the reasons the chinese different because they saw him as a threat. there were very concerned that people in china so other other states were seeing, that was when hope and still a viable concept, there would be inspired and you may have some copycats. right e the story and the wing blogs -- there was one of the issue, the president is not the kind of line of post-nixon american presidents who see china in the same way.
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the president sees china, as a in the this experience south-east asia,, he sees china as a big country. if you put what i was talking about before and that together, chinese might e have seen the president. that tells you the story of what has happened between the china in this and administration, relations and operatively good and there's a of mistrust and miscommunication. most of us on warehouse have written stories about the rhetorical device of china. seen that way asia, but seen as quite a success. can say 100 times that this is not something
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aimed at china, by the chinese see it that way. that was evident from that first trip to china. >> that was something that you of able to pick up because your experience overseas. peter mentioned the hill and agencies, but the foreign diplomat circle to must be a point -- >> you have the committees on but normally the convocation of foreign politics is can work when the story going to rise, and when we can has rt on it and got away official and say, this is what everybody is talking about. these people meet and restoration officials all the time, they will often not give you all the information but it was big enough people you will get a good picture.
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you can get a good kind of idea of what the white house is doing just by hearing, tthat is the we have to do it. people do not just phone you back. [laughter] >> that is true. and certain, that certain agencies get the phone calls. the frustrations are pretty much across the board, i was fascinated when in magazine of white house correspondents, one of the questions was how often, hhow many of you have you spoken to he -indications present in t white house for the last week? 53% said, are you kidding? all feel so excluded from the people who actually do the
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job that we are interested in talking about. there are different levels,, migrate you have coveraged the white house from bloomberg. how has that impacted the you have done the access you had before? the editors of book as me to do an article. i asked if i could get an interview senator obama. they blew me off. went to the senate
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and it was obama's night to give an election speech. he was the last day of the senate. i was stalking him outside. i said that i had been calling his office for six days. he is looking at me, like what is your name. we happen to have some really newspapers in north carolina, especially with big oney states. back iterally called me the next day. one of two interviews i ever had with president obama. sometimes it nt,
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personal, is completely transactional. always need us before, in n something is happening florida or carolina, a couple of other states. bloomberg, they honestly much interested to talk about and the of wall street financial industry. after a while you can figure what you can do with access, aand what you just need to think you will get from another place. >> it is true. we get invited to these briefings that others don't get invited to. are usually pretty
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useless, we are not allowed to quote anybody. we are all still learning something but it is not that useful. beats in this town, there is only one left. it is congress and it is the pentagon. came back ke when you from congress? >> it was brutal. not only place i was allowed to go with permission of the senators only elevator. know cannot avoid you, you where the go. they have hat those to take, you tell somebody on the upper floor and some on the bottom floor. but you can get these people
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and they cannot avoid you. at the white house, it is not. >> i have not asked the president a question for years. [laughter] >> you covered clinton and sh, one would think that you starting on day one of the obama administration and you already know what the code is. other advantages to having had experience? >> i do think it is important because you see things repeat. history repeats itself. a re we are, president and six-year of administration about to head onto mid-term
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not looking very well, you could write the story more context and perspective that way. you also know things that they don't. with a a back and forth press secretary, that try to suggest that this was the first administration to do this. and we actually said no. it helps to have people like and the other to help us e room keep them honest. every administration believes that history starts on the first day. >> at what point does that sinking? >> right around year eight.
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>> i think the bush administration and the clinton administration were much more interested in dealing with foreign media. have the same attitude in obama white house about foreign media and local media. will do an op-ed in paris instead of speaking to the journalist. when bush went travelling he or four ve three different journalist. wires ld also allow the to go in. so you would be able to take it hit quotes and once the tv, you can report that. you had the article, and other foreign media outlet taking wire and having restored
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to. it was a much bigger outcome of the media market. i think the president could of easily taken the stand if he could of taken an interview on german tv. he still very popular in europe. >> do think bush would have done it? he might often but bush was very unpopular in europe. i think these are the people that in a media mindset they know best. still think that there is no better way to do it, interviews with is all very s, it nice and they get good
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coverage. they get one station in denver having that. have a national outlet, is going to be on every newspaper and tv station on america. >> is it not part of the reason to do that? when the journalist, we divide up and read through the interviews. [laughter] >> they are well equipped to in the at is going on came out and she reported, you know how the work gives the ournalist questions beforehand.
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>> it is a sensitive topic. best parts f the about being regularly on the air force one is that president obama has a tradition of coming back and in some of the record time on the way home. sometimes on domestic trips. about gh we can write what he says, it is often reflected. to me that is some of the most you able time because when are covering somebody it is sampling very nice to have some face time with them. know what is on their mind. or something that we forgot to ask and he brings up.
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when ever, i had the privilege to be in one of these i always wondered why he does not do it more often. on the record it would be great. it shows a tremendous amount of goodwill. how difficult of it is a complex your decision making is. how to do ak out of it, i just do not understand why there are more comfortable in doing more of these. i know there has been times he has spoken of, normally on a podium with a microphone. it is true that there is less when you're not other, but there is also less reward.
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my mind, often after one of these long trips there will be some interesting stories. are no quotes the but you know where it came from. does not do why he more. say something to peter? how important do you think it is to see the president everyday? is that something that would be useful to you? >> yes, absolutely.
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been together ave in trips. two countries which have less of a press freedom. we virtually every trip that have gone together, often these less press open societies, there will let the cameras in but no editorial people. usually the american public affairs present which will say now. now we have this new practice were cameras will go in, including the video cameras, with no editorial presence. i know the bureau chiefs and have agreed to do this but it
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is a terrible idea. because it allows to further away the actual pool. i wondered thing about that, together with a.d. seeing the president writers on s for the the panel, the belief when an editorialist is taking out of a situation like that. notvalue e he does your own skill which is part of the editorial role? >> the present we cover the -- person e present you of the least.
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you walk across the way with a you ambusha governor. not know the o president. the spokesman tell you how bush a lot more social, carter will do all these things. one trip with ced clinton came back he told all in his funny voice, imitating world folks. you can imagine that today. obama comes back but it is very
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calculating. that what we miss, this interviews ives more than his predecessor. [laughter] i'm not getting this interviews, but give him credit for it. he is not doing is we take a day in and day out, one or two questions. that is when you hear the president day in and day out about the main issues. with the weeks without hearing his voice. especially these days with the not city of things, we do get his perspective. it is so different. >> how does that impact how you cover the white house? loss of the hat the
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questions is even more important that the big news conferences. >> we have a much smaller would not be there. >> the president making news and saying headlines. they do not want him to make that news. that is the real problem, there's also be a difference of atmosphere. fire ll standing around a of a question, that is often more useful than getting him to speak. everybody stands up and asks these seven bar questions. kind of rubble on. it was this week it would be you think about ebola, the
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islamic state campaign is a real disaster. next week you have the midterm soaked either your mistress and sucks? everything boils down. ever think standard tube. will just talk for 20 minutes. kobany e to ask, is the operation a failure? a endless give us line of wasteful stuff. the other thing i will say is that we spent a lot of time if we get a chance to speak. secrecy of his background
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guys ll the stuff, tthese had been innovative. is a plain the role as it bizarre one. >> they have a briefing with 40 people in the room. [laughter] bunch of guys giving things that you can quote. but you use information cannot quote. [laughter] >> someday will go on morning tv. would you put those briefings on the record? >> i would say that the fault should be on the record unless a reason for it. an email about ebola, the
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president has briefed and there is nothing for you. what on earth is the mentality the? we have a ity is that town collectively have got an idea that the background is the default and not the other way round. we as a profession should no, these people and say that is wrong. i am stunned. ask about the u background. we should assume we are on the record. official is not convinced that the information is true, that is why did not want the name attached. spokesperson at the time, if you felt very good about the information you can quote me by name.
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less i could le tell. a lot, allie. and then, allies, to give the had more than one. [laughter] you guys think about the use of embargoed information and await the administration is using this. that the bush administration did this? did they put something on the think that was under an embargo? embargo, it is not news. >> would that be something that
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your list of things -- >> i think so. we are handcuffing ourselves in reporting. if they told the hill, they told people around town we are to be aggressive if it is something real. muscle times they are just trying to feed us think that we will bite. embargo in the old days used to be for a budget. get an advanced tax, all of that makes sense but the idea that you will put out a report about our job training program evaluation may be finished, i need that embargo. we did have occasions where they put an embargo but we got it from different sources.
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i am not going to stop because they put up an embargo. it invites conflict because they get mad at us. >> stephen, you have recently the white house coverage. is there anything that seems to noticed or that is different? little you ng how miss it. said it was like a really good job to have had. certainly don't miss
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midnight people at hoping to get an email back. [laughter] go is kind of nice to outside the white house and people return your calls. these are the people are right at the beginning, when this will have the careers before them. it is a massive difference. [laughter] the comparison between that and the white house, they are mad at the press they are at the republicans. it is amazing how that changes in six years. no problem 7 you had obama g back some of the administration.
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>> did anybody have any questions in the audience? >> [inaudible] some colleagues of yours. the off the record think is good? [inaudible] >> he invited 15 or 17 not any other
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reporters who cover him, on the day that he was going to announce the isis campaign. i called everybody he was at to get a sense of what was happening. off the record restriction i was not me, so there. out what job to find he's thinking, if members of congress have gone in and spoke i would have called them would have ly they told me. racket it at of the you can have 15 at the time and expect that is after i could thing. briefings with 40 people.
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these are powerful events. is lso think that he substtitutes. >> i don't think that we should be able to speak to the president on the record, although it is always my preference. if we have such little access who cover the people him daily, when we do have the one on one to talk or in a small room which tends be off the record, i believe it is a valuable experience, just for the reporters but for him as well. he get a vibe of what we are interested in, and we get a vibe what he is thinking.
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if i gave the impression that a than on the record, i was wrong. saying of the record, he does not want not to the k that he was conversation to be on his terms. an off the record, like amber to talk to you about my daughters and i don't want anybody to find out. -- he just to shape wants to shape the discussion in washington. >> there is different interpretations in that.
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you should clarify it from the beginning how that is intended. we have had that happen when went f my colleagues, they off the record, aand then he reported it. it is the president of the united states, what he does is not of the record. specially when he speaks about things of great interest to the public. it is our job to get those things out. >> did anybody of having question? can we go to alexis. >> [inaudible]
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they try to control things by you will be punished. [laughter] >> first of all, it is intimidating when you walk into and report something. and then they go on you.
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it is tough. and with the advisers, you cannot be intimidated by you also need to be responsible reporter. united also be trusted by your sources. you need to deal with your sources in a responsible way, need to be able tto be trusted by them. when you write a top story on how to get them on it. lived up to lways this but one of the basic things is do not surprise people. if you are really going to melt somebody with a story, give a chance to respond before you have gone up with that. and do not surprise them, let them know it is coming.
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you know there is not going to by let them know, they're going to get hit with something. deal with those officials in a reasonable way and a trustworthy way, it is a lot easier when they decide to go on you. because it is going to pass. do you think, they are not again. but eak to me the will. >> [inaudible] >> i guess. [laughter]
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>> josh, i think is a good e ing to get a mixed of peopl asking questions. we have got into this habit of going down the line and then people ask multiple question multiple topics. i have been other white house ather is a different first subject is ebola, and then everybody asked the questions on that. up on people following their questions. the most important thing is on the follow-up. like peter asking a question llow. being able to fo maybe the white house more like this panel.
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we do to ourselves, not sending out correspondence -- going back with her argument to as much as esident possible. [inaudible] we had to be there. you have to be there, ready to
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go. [inaudible] >> bill clinton did the same. he would make sure to go to the fund raising dinners. in number of not go to people were this, but we would realise he was speaking a lot about bosnia. more lot disciplinary than that. it is a problem.
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of this conversation about the going to be at how much fire access they give us. are we skipping events on the premise that we cannot be there. >> i have one more questions to this panel. a important things way to resolve as a group, if you knew that you were going to see the president in the brief once a questions, would you agree that the photo journalist could go in without editorial presence? barring whatever you want to add in the?
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this really a thing, the white house has offered us more visuals on the president which means a lot to photographers and the tv cameras, but those of us want editorial presence that all the time and will we rease the number of times get to ask unscripted questions. setting aside an agreed the should le that editorial always be there, iif you knew you would see the president once a week taking questions in the briefing room would you have a different view? you relax the idea that there were no editorial presence? i would say no. conference by the friday by the news you want
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might be on tuesday. them uld be great to have on a friday but unless he agreed to come whenever we want it would not work. scream in yell and the pool. ometimes we get a setting there is a question, but a lot of times it does not mean still don't get the weekly chance. >> the last time a president gave whitley braves would be eisenhower. the weight he did during the not have a l he did strategy. [laughter] that would be an extraordinary commitment. i'm not convinced they would do it. i agree.
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of having an iple editorial is important. i feel very strongly about that but if you did have access to the president where you could multiple questions every week, it makes it a little bit consider something like that. like a bedrock have on the if you record -- this is a variation of that. i cannot imagine that they would agree to weekly press conferences. i think there will make the promise and will see if it pen. lly hap >> you never know. would re-elect you. >> president for life.
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>> i think that as the panel this would alleviate a lot. it cannot be an absolute we will never ask for access during the week mething like with the ebola nurse, been urse they should have full pool access. if that is after table because a deal for friday's, i think we traded something that is very precious. now that we have it now. we have now agreed to what is happening. not good appening is for democracy and we should not have them do it. [applause]

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